School vs. Home. It’s an interesting dichotomy to say the least. Especially when school isn’t in your hometown. The free reign you have while at school is great and all, but then that gets balanced out by the extra responsibilities you carry. Everything from simple things like doing laundry to more crucial decisions like developing your career path. Life away from home isn’t as dandy as it seems and it’s oh so expensive.
Stay at home long enough, which really isn’t very long at all, you develop this nagging, itching wanderlust. Stay away from home long enough, which also isn’t very long at all, you get homesick, even if it’s just a very small part of you. At school, you enjoy the camaraderie you have with friends, the ability to make decisions for yourself, the freedom from the overbearing oversight of family. But at the same time, you start missing friends back home, the protection that being close to family affords, and the tender embrace of your own bed. Once you’re home, after the honeymoon period of being treated as the Prodigal Son, you begin dealing with familial demands, soon after which wanderlust kicks in yet again.
Go through the cycle of moving back and forth often enough, you begin to appreciate how peculiar the human mind is. Being in one place will always seem to have something missing. School can seem empty at times while home can feel chaotic. School could actually be fun but home might feel more comfortable. It’s a bit unsettling that neither seems to fit perfectly. But I suppose that’s life. Home, school, wherever. Make the best of where you are and get the best out of it; experience is what matters. I suppose that’s the real takeaway message of it all.
As the world buzzed over the Royal Wedding and bin Laden’s death on Monday, Canadians voted for a government for the fifth time in the past decade. The results were momentous. The Conservatives were handed their much desired majority government, the NDP became Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition for the very first time, the Bloc Quebecois lost official party status by obtaining a record low four seats, the Green Party obtained their first seat ever, and the Liberals were crushed throughout the country, losing more than half of their seats.
With the Green Party focusing their efforts on their leader’s riding, Elizabeth May has become their first elected MP. Handily defeating Gary Lunn, a Conservative Minister, May’s election shows that Canadians do care about the environment, an element that gets ignored all to often in the battleground of politics despite all the fanfare.
The Bloc’s downfall from 49 seats to a mere 4 seats signify a drastic shift in Quebecois opinion. Separatism is no longer the key issue that it used to be, replaced by the elevated status of concerns regarding issues effecting every day life. Their impenetrable control over the province has disintegrated into a tenuous control of a fortress riding in Montreal, surrounded by a berm of Liberals that hold back the orange tide. Gilles Duceppe was graceful and poised in his resignation, marking the end of an era. The end of an era, yes, but not down and out for the count. If anything, this sudden shift in opinion shows that anything’s possible. The Bloc could very well come back stronger than ever the next election.
Paralleling the Bloc’s fall is the meteoric rise of the NDP. More than tripling their representation, 58 seats of which are in Quebec, the NDP have been handed the whip to try and keep the Conservatives in line. NDP HQ no longer lies with its Western roots, but has moved to La Belle Province. Running a near-flawless campaign, including saturation of the interwebs with Google Adsense Ads, the NDP are the true winners of this election, having reached unprecedented popularity. But, this government will be as much of a test for them as it is for the Conservatives.
And oh how the mighty have fallen. Ignatieff and the Liberals, powering their way into an election, were wholly blindsided by the NDP. Instead of “Everyone vs. Conservatives”, it defaulted to “Everyone stop the NDP” within the last weeks of campaigning. The resulting split vote between the NDP and Liberals was probably the ultimate factor in the latter’s fall and the Conservatives’ rise. A glum Ignatieff has now left to return to academia (uToronto), leaving a pair of shoes that few seem willing/able to wear. With its red HQ in Toronto shattered by blue and orange, the centre-aligned party has been been crippled, but its history shows that it”ll probably be back.
The left-right balance that the NDP strikes with the Conservatives aligns Canadian government with more traditional forms of government seen around the world. It’ll be interesting to see how this turns out. With a better, but still not brilliant, voter turnout, this election showed that there was still a definite drive for Canadians to elect who they wanted in Parliament. Youth awareness was at an unprecedented high, with “vote mobs” galore.
The sheer scale of the change that swept the country is what’s truly historical though. It proves that Canadians were unhappy with the status quo and that they were not afraid to push for change. No one saw this coming, not even the vaunted prowess of the media. To the Conservatives: en garde. The keys to the country have been handed to you, as you’ve asked for, to run the country effectively. MPs have been elected from your party for all provinces and territories save for the NWT. Do well governing in the next four years and there’d be nothing to fear in the next election. Do poorly…well, May 2, 2011 shows that Canadians aren’t afraid of cleaning house. From top all the way to bottom. Facta non verba.